Harry Potter films used powerful Intel-based Linux clusters

The animation studio responsible for much of the eerie special effects work in the latest installment of the Harry Potter film series, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” uses fast, powerful Intel-based Linux clusters in its render farm, but it was still running into problems because of bottlenecks with its Network File System servers.

Accio Lustre — an open source cluster file system called Lustre helped feed the studio’s prodigious I/O appetite at a price point that keeps it competitive with larger organizations.

Using Linux is common at production studios these days, but Framestore was one of the first. Framestore originally launched six years ago with Unix servers and “probably a splattering of Windows machinery here and there. We fairly quickly went with Linux,” says Framestore system support engineer Daire, because of the lower costs associated with that operating system. And the studio didn’t stop at installing Linux only on its servers. According to Byrne, the company is running Fedora Core on 600 workstations in the render farm and hundreds more throughout the rest of the enterprise.

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